2009 Wildlife Exhibitor Annual Report

This has been another great year for Reptiles Alive!  Between September 30, 2008 through September 30, 2009, we presented 735 shows for approximately 63,000 people!  That is a lot of people who have been educated about reptiles and wildlife conservation.

During that period, we also had some changes to our animal collection and our staff.

Jennifer Rafter left us this past summer to join the team at the new Delmarva Discovery Center.  She is missed – but we know she is having a great time setting up a brand new, 7,000 gallon aquarium and setting up new reptile and amphibian exhibits as well.  Last weekend, we transferred a corn snake, an America toad, and a gray tree frog to the DDC for her to display.

A few of our animals have left us as well.  We transferred a healthy carpet python to another reptile organization because the python was not “happy” doing shows with us.  He will have a great new home where he no longer has to go to work.

Two of our animals died this year.  We lost an eastern king snake and a pueblan milk snake.  Both were very old and were suffering from a gastro-intestinal disease.  We were very sad, but we had them both humanely euthanized so they would not suffer any more.

Four new animals made their way into the Reptiles Alive permanent collection this year.

This spring, Sunflower the albino boa constrictor made her way to us.  She is still less than one year old and is less than 2 feet long, so you might not see her at shows for a few more months.  But we are VERY excited about having her here – she is so beautiful.  It is rare to see albino boa constrictors exhibited in animal shows or at zoos, so you will be in for a treat when you meet her.

albino boa

Later in the year, we received another “regular” colored boa constrictor and an albino Burmese python.  The new Burmese python we named Moonlight and you can see him in shows starting this month.  The “regular” boa is named Aztec.   He is very handsome and healthy, so you will get to see him in shows starting this month as well.

Lastly, we just received another albino Burmese python.  This snake came from the Alexandria Animal Welfare League as an abandoned pet.  He/she seems healthy, but we have to quarantine all of our new animals for at least 3 months to make sure.  This new snake does not yet have a name, but we are thinking of naming him “Cloud.”  What do you think we should name him?

We are looking forward to the coming year and meeting all of you!  Be sure to fill book your show now, our calendar is filling up fast.

Snake Invaders!

Fall is the time of year for beautiful foliage,pumpkins, hot cider, and snakes.

Snakes?  What do they have to do with fall?

Throughout the year we are contacted from people who are concerned about finding snakes inside of their homes.  During the fall, however, these calls increase.  Why?  What happens in fall that makes it more likely to find a snake inside of your home?

will-with-big-pumpkin-300x200Two phenomena occur in fall to increase the low probability of finding a snake inside your house:

1.  In most of the United States, snake eggs typically hatch in September and October.  Therefore, a surge in the population of baby snakes occurs in the fall.

2.  Snakes and other creatures are searching for hibernation sites.  In the wild, these sites might include caves, crevices, and hollow cavities under rocks or fallen trees.  Human dwellings are very appealing to animals wanting to hibernate.  Animals ranging from Asian stink bugs to black rat snakes will often make use of accessible human homes to keep cozy during the winter.

So what is a homeowner who prefers not to share their home with wildlife to do?

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There are many “treatments” touted online and by pest control companies that are ineffective and sometimes even dangerous that you should avoid.   Chemical products labeled  to keep snakes away are waste of your money.  Mothballs are also not going to discourage snakes and may even cause health problems in humans.

The only effective treatments for deterring snakes from your home are physical.

You need to seal your home from invading animals. Any hole or space into your house, even as small as a pencil, can allow mice, snakes and other creatures access to your home.

Start in the attic.  Check the vents and be sure they are securely covered in fine mesh hardware cloth (hardware cloth is like a really tough metal screen that comes in sheets or rolls).  Search the perimeter of the attic for any spot allowing light in – this might be an access point that needs sealing.  Remember, rat snakes can climb straight up a brick wall to gain access to your warm attic for the winter.

Walk the perimeter of your foundation, both inside and outside, checking for access.  Common access points include:  the area around wires, plumbing or cable entering the home, doors, windows, and vents.

Check the basement and/or crawlspace as well.  If animals can gain entry into either of these areas, they can probably gain access to your home.

Caulk, weather stripping, steel wool, plumber’s foam, and hardware cloth can all be used to seal up your home.

If the idea of handy-man work or the prospect of climbing into an unfinished attic does not appeal to you, there are a few pest control companies that specialize in wildlife exclusion and will remove any wildlife they find and repair your home so animals cannot get back inside.  When contacting an animal exclusion company, be sure to get references and check with at least two companies.  Remember, if they want to use a chemical snake deterrent, do not use that company.  You can find animal control companies in the yellow pages under “pest control” or by googling “animal trapping service” and your location.

While they do not belong in your home; remember, snakes are part of both the rural and urban environment.  They play a very important role and are as important to the health of the environment as the birds, butterflies, and other wildlife more commonly associated with a healthy ecosystem.

Enjoy these wild animals outside of your home, and you will have a healthy, happy habitat for you and nature.

Birthday Parties in the Flu Season – Be Prepared

Your invitations are sent.   Your Reptiles Alive birthday show is booked.  The decorations are up.  And then…  OH NO!  The birthday person gets sick!  What to do?

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Child with the flu

We encourage clients with sick children to call us as soon as possible if the child is sick close to the day (or the day of) the birthday party. Most entertainers will try to work with you to re-schedule your show and party to date that works for both of you.  If that is not possible – we will refund your 100% of your deposit.  It is not fun being at a party when you are sick – and worse, the illness will spread to your guests.

What happens when your party entertainer gets ill?  At Reptiles Alive, we are professional, reliable, and human.  If one of our wildlife educators becomes sick, we work hard to find a replacement educator (we will even call our competitors sometimes) for your party.  On very rare occasions, however, even we have to cancel a show.

Believe me, we never want to do this, but sometimes, due to illness or other reasons out of our control, our educator cannot make it to his/her show.  In over 13 years and thousands of shows, we have had to cancel less than 5.  That is a pretty good record!

What if it is YOUR party we cannot make it to?  Or what if you have hired another party entertainer and they cannot make it?

1.  Always have a back up plan in mind.  Whether you have Reptiles Alive or another party entertainer coming: illness, traffic or other problems can happen that prevent the entertainer from making it to your party.

2.  Back up plans can include extra games , crafts, cooking fun foods together, a TV video, or  if your show canceled because of snow – you can let the guests play outside and build a snowman.  Explore the outdoors, go on a nature walk in your neighborhood, dig in the dirt, or bring the outdoors inside and let the party guests inspect leaves, insects, make leaf and bark rubbings, inspect things up close on a tarp in the living room. Totally fun!

3.  RELAX.  Kids will have fun – really.  I had a birthday mom call us last minute because another party entertainer had to cancel and she had just found out about us.  We were already booked, so we could not make it.  I talked to her about the party:  15 nine year old boys; Cool (50′s) November day; backyard with a fire pit – BINGO!  I suggested she buy hot dogs,  marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.  These boys were old enough to roast s’mores and hot dogs  and they were old enough to enjoy watching/helping Dad build the fire.  They played soccer in the yard, had fun around the fire, ate some cake and went home.  The mom called me later and said the boys had a total blast!

Professional party entertainers never want to cancel a show – trust me.  Sometimes, though, it is simply out of their control.  Especially in the flu season, but anytime, it is always a good idea to be prepared.  That way, you and your party will be happy and fun no matter what happens.

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Children LOVE helping to build a fire!

Volunteer Position Available on the Eastern Shore

Pocomoke City, MD – The Delmarva Discovery Center on the Pocomoke River is seeking volunteers 18 years of age and older. Exciting opportunities await you as you share your time and talents with visitors at the Delmarva Discovery Center.

Can you…

o Lead a Tour?

o Serve on a Committee?

o Work in the Museum Store?

o Or just lend a hand around the Center?

If so, then The Delmarva Discovery Center would like to bring you on board as a volunteer! Our volunteers make this place succeed because of their dedication, hard work, and creative ideas. If you would like to join us as a volunteer or have any questions about this opportunity, feel free to contact the Delmarva Discovery Center at 410.957.9933 or jroynon@delmarvadiscoverycenter.org. The Delmarva Discovery Center on the Pocomoke River serves as a place of learning and discovery for the public through the preservation and interpretation of its cultural and natural heritage.